Avant-Garde Transformation of Artistic Labor: The Productivist View of Boris Arvatov

Nikola Dedić


The basic thesis of the article is that in historical materialist theory a distinction can be made between the terms work and labor. Work refers to a specific activity – sewing, weaving, painting, sculpting. Labor refers to the social relationship, primarily between different social groups, i.e., classes – wage labor, serfdom, slavery, petty craftsmanship. Art history has approached the avant-garde mainly from the aspect of artistic work – for example, how the avant-garde transformed work in the domain of painting into work in the domain of three-dimensional construction. This article tries to think of the avant-garde as a phenomenon that has transformed art in terms of artistic labor. The basis is the transition from constructivism to productivism in Soviet art in the 1920s, and especially Boris Arvatov's theoretical postulates.


Article received: March 12, 2022; Article accepted: June 21, 2022; Published online: September 15, 2022; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: "Avant-Garde Transformation of Artistic Labor: The Productivist View of Boris Arvatov." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 28 (September 2022): 133-151. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i28.523


historical materialism; labor theory of value; political economy; avant-garde art; Soviet avant-garde; constructivism; productivism.

Full Text:



Arvatov, Boris. Art and Production. London: Brill, 2017.

Beech, Dave. Art and Labour: On the Hostility to Handicraft, Aesthetic Labour and the Politics of Work in Art. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2020.

Briski-Uzelac, Sonja. “Inhuk”. In Pojmovnik ruske avangarde, knj. 3, uredili Aleksandar Flaker i Dubravka Ugrešić, 91–106. Zagreb: Grafički zavod Hrvatske i Zavod za znanost o književnosti Filozofskog fakulteta u Zagrebu, 1985.

Bukharin, Nikolai. The Politics and Economics of the Transition Period. London: Routledge, 2007.

Dobb, Maurice. Studies in the Development of Capitalism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul LTD., 1950.

Kiaer, Christina. Imagine no Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 2005.

Lenin, V.I. Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. London: Penguin Books, 2010.

Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume Three. London: Penguin, 1991.

Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume One. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc, 2011.

Marx, Karl. Theories of Surplus Value, Volume 1. A Radical Imprint of Pattern Books, 2020.

Mijušković, Slobodan, ed. Dokumenti za razumevanje ruske avangarde. Beograd: Geopoetika, 2003.

Mijušković, Slobodan. Od samodovoljnosti do smrti slikarstva. Umetničke teorije (i prakse) ruske avangarde. Beograd: Geopoetika, 1998.

Rubin, Isaak I. Essays on Marx’s Theory of Value. Delhi: Aakar Books, 2008.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i28.523


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 AM Journal of Art and Media Studies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

AM Journal of Art and Media Studies ISSN 2217-9666 - printed, ISSN 2406-1654 - online, UDK 7.01:316.774

Contact: amjournal@outlook.com

Publisher: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

Indexed in: ERIH PLUSEBSCODOAJ, and in The List of Scientific Journals Categorization of Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Republic of Serbia (M24-2021). Beginning with No. 12 2017, AM is indexed, abstracted and covered in Clarivate Analytics service ESCI.